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Authors: Dean Murray

Trapped

BOOK: Trapped
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Trapped<br/>Trapped

 

by Dean Murray

 

Copyright 2012 by Dean Murray

 

Also by Dean Murray:

The Reflections Series
Broken (
free
)
Torn (
free
if you sign up for
Dean's Mailing List
)
Splintered
Intrusion
Trapped
Forsaken
Riven
The Greater Darkness (
Writing as Eldon Murphy
) (
free
A Darkness Mirrored (
Writing as Eldon Murphy
)
The Dark Reflections Series
Bound
Hunted
The Guadel Chronicles
Frozen Prospects (
free
)
Thawed Fortunes (
free
if you sign up for
Dean's Mailing List
)
Brittle Bonds
Shattered Ties

Chapter 1

 

"So
help me, Kristin. If I have another junior high loser show up and
drool over me I'm going to walk out. I don't need this job that bad.
Nobody needs a job that bad."

I
was tempted to tell Beth that normal people put up with a lot worse
just to make ends meet, but I bit my tongue instead and added water
to the dehydrated beans. It wasn't that she didn't have a point about
TacoHut not being the greatest place to work, but Beth's problem was
more along the line of parents who were entirely too permissive
rather than a crappy, dead-end job.

Sure,
the junior high boys could be kind of annoying, but it was flattering
to know that half the reason they came to the TacoHut was because we
were there. Not that there was much else to do in Idaho, especially
not in the tiny town of Ridge. Kind of sad when the most happening
place in the entire town was the TacoHut attached to the gas station.

Beth
tossed her short blond hair and then stretched out her long, skinny
legs that her jeans somehow managed to accentuate more than hide, and
sighed.

"Luckily
we're not that far from midnight. Maybe someone interesting will
drive through between now and then."

I
shook my head and added the contents of some Mexican Rice Seasoning
packets into the rice as a sports car pulled up to one of the
station's two gas pumps. "Beth, the kind of guys who drive
through a town this size after eleven aren't really the kind of guys
you want to get to know."

"Come
on, Kristin. Don't you wonder, at least a little, what it would be
like? Some rebel guy, a one-night fling, or not a fling, an actual
chance to get out of this stupid town."

"Right,
something like that isn't your ticket out of Ridge. It's a one-way
ticket to pregnant and living with your parents forever."

"I
don't know. I think for some guys it might be worth the risk."

I
shook my head. "No guy is worth that."

"Really,
not even him?"

I
almost responded without looking, but it was like something reached
out in that instant and pulled my face around so that I could see who
had triggered such a breathy introduction from Beth.

He
was astonishing. Blond, with a muscular but slender frame that was
only partly hidden by the well-worn leather jacket that he wore
despite the fact that we were closer to summer still than autumn. I'd
always liked my guys dark and stocky, but something about this guy
had my insides rearranging themselves.

It
was all I could do not to lean up against the windows like a toddler
being driven past their favorite park. I could make out enough from
here to tell that he was gorgeous, but all of the parts of me that I
usually kept tightly locked up wanted a better view.

"Whoa,
girl. Did we actually find a guy able to catch
your
eye? I
have to be honest, I wasn't really even sure it was possible
until I saw it with my own eyes. Maybe he's some kind of alien
with special, Kristin-attracting powers."

"Shut
up, Beth. He's just a guy. A very attractive guy, granted, but
still nothing to get too excited about."

Maybe
if I said it a couple more times inside my own head I'd start
to believe it. He'd finished a walk around his car and now he
was headed towards us. I felt my heart flutter as I realized that not
only was he going to come inside, but that Marge had stepped away
from the cash register, so either Beth or I would need to help him if
he purchased something before she got back.

"Wow,
I think you're actually about to faint. What are you going to
do when he hits on you while you're ringing him up?"

I
shook my head and turned back to the rice which was nearly ready to
go. "I'm not going to help him—you go do it."

Beth
snorted and threw a hand towel at me. "Right. You're
forgetting which one of us really needs this job. I'm just
going to sit here until Marge shows up and yells at us. If you want
to keep her happy, you'll have to go help him. If you've
got any guts at all, you'll get him to ask you out."

I
gritted my teeth and headed towards the far cash register. Even if
I'd been interested in the kind of guy who drifted through town
on his way somewhere else, I wouldn't have wanted to meet him
in my TacoHut uniform, hair in disarray, smelling of more kinds of
generic spices than I'd even known existed six months ago.

As
he got closer I gave him a really good once over, hopefully without
looking like I was giving him the once over. The leather jacket hid a
simple blue tee-shirt that hugged his frame in nice ways without
looking overdone. The plain jeans and black work boots that rounded
out the look somehow fit perfectly with the short, almost military
haircut and crisp motions.

He
stepped in the store and absently nodded at me, but it was obvious
his attention was somewhere else. For a second I wondered if he was
here to rob us. Part of me wanted to believe that nobody quite that
attractive could be capable of something like that, but there was no
denying the way he moved. Like he was casing the joint out. That, or
worried he was going to be ambushed by a gang.

Beth's
giggle was just audible from over at the TacoHut, which triggered a
wave of heat that started in my chest and worked its way up to my
forehead. I tried to put her out of my mind, but the damage was done.
Once I blushed it was too late. I looked like a tomato. Maybe some
redheads could manage a blush that wasn't super obvious, but
I'd never had that ability. My face always lit up like a stop
sign.

I
covertly watched Mr. Hottie wander through the store. He stopped in
the snack aisle and browsed through a bunch of different options, all
of which were pretty much guaranteed to destroy that incredible body.

A
couple of minutes later he walked up to the counter with two bags of
sunflower seeds and some water.

"I
need some gas too—fifty bucks ought to do it."

Not
trusting my voice, I nodded and scanned his items. We'd
actually just finished upgrading to honest-to-goodness electronic
scanners for all of the convenience store items.

He
pulled a crisp hundred-dollar bill out of his wallet, but then paused
before handing it to me. I was so preoccupied trying not to make eye
contact that it took me a second to realize he was looking at me.

I
opened my mouth to ask him if something was wrong, but he nodded, as
if coming out of a daze, and handed me the bill. As soon as the door
had safely swung shut behind him, I sighed. Marge came walking out of
the back room just in time to see me looking longingly out towards
his retreating figure, but I waved her question away and headed back
over to the TacoHut.

Beth
was snickering into her hand, and I refrained once again from saying
something I would regret later. I was stuck with Beth, both in the
short term and the long term, and pissing her off would just make
life miserable for both of us. I spared a moment to wish Marge was
still in the back as some yuppie in a BMW pulled up, but since she
wasn't, there was no way to delay taking my lumps.

"Oh,
my gosh, Kristin. That was like the funniest thing I've seen in
ages. You were sitting there drooling over him, and he was too
preoccupied to notice."

I
felt the blush returning. "More like too nice to make me feel
bad by visibly noticing how pathetic I was."

"No,
definitely too preoccupied. I know because when he did notice you he
totally did a double-take. If you both hadn't been too shy to
actually carry on a conversation then something might have happened
there."

I
felt my blush deepen, but she'd set her hook. I leaned in
despite myself. "Right. His type totally looked to be bookish
and awkward."

Beth
hit me gently on the arm. "I'm telling you, Kristin. Guys
dig you. If you actually gave guys the time of day and tried not to
make them look stupid, I think you'd be surprised at whose type
you would turn out to be."

It
wasn't the kind of comment I could just shrug off. I really
didn't give people the time of day. I wanted to, but I just
couldn't seem to bring myself to put people higher on the
priority list than everything else I needed to be doing.

I
had one chance at getting out of Ridge on my own terms. I needed a
scholarship to the kind of college that opened up real possibilities
once you graduated. Harvard, MIT, Yale. It didn't necessarily
matter which one I got into, any of them would advance me towards the
goal of finally having enough money that I'd never need to
worry about what kind of curve ball life was going to throw me.

I
needed more than just good grades, I needed to show community
involvement and the kind of raw ambition that would give me a chance
compared to the spoiled brats that pretty much had their way greased
into the school from the moment of conception. It made for a brutal
schedule that didn't have much leeway for boyfriends or
parties.

The
bit about making people feel stupid was easier to shake off actually.
Most people weren't really stupid; they were just ignorant,
which was all about them being lazy. I didn't have much
sympathy for lazy.

I
washed my hands, pulled a package of tortillas out where we could get
at them more easily, and then realized we had another customer. Beth
was already making eyes at him, despite the fact that he was too busy
looking at the overhead menu to have noticed her yet.

I
almost couldn't blame her for the way she was gearing up to
throw herself at him. The other guy had been muscular but lean. This
guy was built like a full-on body-builder, which normally was a big
turnoff for me, but with him, the sense of raw physical power got my
heart beating just a tad faster.

He
absently smoothed back a stray lock of dark hair, and I thought Beth
was going to melt into a puddle right then and there.

"I'll
take two number fours."

His
voice was smooth and deep, but what really got my attention was his
accent. I didn't have a great ear, but I was pretty confident
it was Columbian.

My
get-into-college 'project' had been to get involved with
one of the microloan programs. It had the benefit of being something
I was sort of interested in, and gave me a chance to practice my
Spanish, but the downside was that I was expected to do lots of
translation into English, and while I loved spoken Spanish,
translating written stuff was a complete drag.

Whenever
I could, I spoke directly with the people requesting the loans over
Skype or something similar, but I still couldn't keep up very
well, so it always seemed to come back to written translation. It was
the only way to put the loan requests in a form that Americans could
understand and agree to fund.

We
spent a lot of time working with loans for people in Columbia and
Bolivia, and I was pretty sure his accent was Columbian. I wandered
back to the front of the TacoHut and cleared my throat.

"Disculpe,
Señor. Usted es de Columbia?"

Beth
kicked me, but the customer turned and smiled at me.

"Yes,
I am from Columbia. That's a very keen ear for someone in this
area. Have you ever been to my country?"

Beth
was headed back to the food preparation area, and I realized I'd
screwed up. I'd wanted to practice my Spanish, but he seemed to
be one of those who was less than interested in wading through my
halting attempts at communication. It was too late to bow out
gracefully and now Beth was going to be super pissed.

"No,
I haven't ever had the chance to visit, but I've talked
to several people from your country through one of my school
projects."

"Ah,
your accent was very good for someone who's never visited. What
project do you do there at your school that gives you such broad
exposure to South America?"

"I
help originate microloans."

As
soon as the words left my mouth I realized that I should have lied.
His posture had gone stiff, and his smile had slipped. He drove a
freaking BMW. How was I supposed to know he was going to be touchy
about the fact that his country was one of the poorest in the western
hemisphere?

BOOK: Trapped
8.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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